Eating out can be confusing, overwhelming and stressful when you are trying to eat healthy. I used to be afraid to eat out so I became an amazing cook! BUT… since I’m still a foodie and I really love to go out to eat and be social with my friends, I learned how to navigate my way around a restaurant menu. First of all, I have become quite the food snob over the years. I refuse to go out and pay for crappy food and terrible service. If I’m going to go out to eat, I’m going to enjoy a higher end restaurant that uses fresh ingredients and prepares the food with care. I would rather go out to eat less often and really enjoy my food then feel awful about my food choices and end up not feeling well later. I have perfected going out to eat and still eating healthy. It’s interesting to see what some people consider as being, “healthy”. When I work with clients, I teach them how to ‘clean up’ the way they eat and how to choose foods that they like to eat and taste delicious. This is helpful when going out to eat. Knowing what a healthy choice is first, is key.
There are a lot of factors to consider when going out to eat. The first is the menu. Higher end restaurants usually have the ingredients listed under each dish. I always read the entire menu along with the ingredients to see what the restaurant has to offer. Then I go back and see what dishes excite me. I like each bite to be a party in my mouth, so I only order something that I get excited about. Then I look at the ingredients of the dish and see if I want to make any substitutions. I’ve had great experiences where I’ve created my own dish using the ingredients listed on the menu. Yes, they will actually let you do this!
Small salad. Starting with a small salad is the best way to start your meal. Eating a small salad first will help to curb your hunger, fill you up with some great veggies and helps you to eat way less of your entree. Knowing what kind of salad to order is another challenge. Most restaurants have terrible salads. Just a plate of lettuce with two slices of cucumber, two pieces of onion, a 1/4 of a tomato, shredded cheese and a few croutons. BORING. Most restaurants will let you create your own salad or add ingredients to their existing salad. The dressing is also important to consider. Try to stay away from the thick and creamy dressings and use a vinaigrette instead. Most of the time, they give you way too much dressing, just use a little at a time and don’t finish the cup they give you.
Bread basket. One or two pieces and then stop. Why fill up on bread when you can enjoy the exciting dish that’s on the way?!
Leftovers. I love leftovers. I used to try to finish my meal because I was used to being in the clean plate club. Now, I love to take home leftovers and enjoy my meal again. Depending upon what you order, just eat half and take the rest home. Most restaurants give large portions that really would be classified as a meal for two or maybe even more. If you are used to finishing everything on your plate, this might be a challenge for you at first. Try it! I can guarantee you that you will be full after eating half and you won’t feel stuffed after your meal.
Dessert. You really don’t need dessert. Really. If you are out celebrating someone’s birthday or special occasion, you don’t actually have to finish the entire piece of cake. You can also share. Sharing is more fun anyway.
Walk. I love to take a walk after dinner. If the weather is nice and there is a place to walk outside of the restaurant, take a stroll. Enjoy the company of who you’re with and take a short walk after dinner. It will feel great!
I have a bunch more tips in my arsenal. This is a good start to changing the way you eat out. What are some things that you do when you eat out that are healthy or maybe not so healthy?